Articles | Volume 12, issue 18
Research article
28 Sep 2012
Research article |  | 28 Sep 2012

Calibration of column-averaged CH4 over European TCCON FTS sites with airborne in-situ measurements

M. C. Geibel, J. Messerschmidt, C. Gerbig, T. Blumenstock, H. Chen, F. Hase, O. Kolle, J. V. Lavrič, J. Notholt, M. Palm, M. Rettinger, M. Schmidt, R. Sussmann, T. Warneke, and D. G. Feist

Abstract. In September/October 2009, six European ground-based Fourier Transform Spectrometers (FTS) of the Total Carbon Column Observation Network (TCCON) were calibrated for the first time using aircraft measurements. The campaign was part of the Infrastructure for Measurement of the European Carbon Cycle (IMECC) project.

During this campaign, altitude profiles of several trace gases and meteorological parameters were taken close to the FTS sites (typically within 1–2 km distance for flight altitudes below 5000 m). Profiles of CO2, CH4, CO and H2O were measured continuously. N2O, H2, and SF6 were later derived from flask measurements. The aircraft data had a vertical coverage ranging from approximately 300 to 13 000 m, corresponding to ~80% of the total atmospheric column seen by the FTS.

This study summarizes the calibration results for CH4. The resulting calibration factor of 0.978 ± 0.002 (±1 σ) from the IMECC campaign agreed very well with the results that Wunch et al. (2010) had derived for TCCON instruments in North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan using similar methods. By combining our results with the data of Wunch et al. (2010), the uncertainty of the calibration factor could be reduced by a factor of three (compared to using only IMECC or only Wunch et al. (2010) data).

A careful analysis of the calibration method used by Wunch et al. (2010) revealed that the incomplete vertical coverage of the aircraft profiles can lead to a bias in the calibration factor. This bias can be compensated with a new iterative approach that we developed. Using this improved method, we derived a significantly lower calibration factor of 0.974 ± 0.002 (±1 σ). This corresponds to a correction of all TCCON CH4 measurements by roughly −7 ppb.

Final-revised paper